And to All a Good Night Buck Busfield has revived one of his best holiday plays (first mounted at the B Street Theatre in 1997), and it’s even funnier the second time around. The play has hardly changed, but the times we live in have shifted. The self-important character of pastor Calvin Ridges has transformed from a do-gooder liberal into a compassionate conservative (played this time by Michael Stevenson, who’s excellent). There’s good give-and-take between actors Kurt Johnson and Dave Pierini as a pair of hapless thieves on Christmas Eve, and there’s an all-too-rare appearance by wise old Mitch Agruss as that fellow who shows up on the 25th.
B Street Theatre; 6:30 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday; $20-$25. Additional shows at 7 p.m. on December 26 and January 2. No shows on Christmas, New Year’s Day, or January 4-6. 2711 B Street, (916) 443-5300. Through January 9. J.H.
A Child’s Christmas in Wales Dylan Thomas’ sweet remembrance of his childhood is a subtle celebration of small moments and simpler times in a wee Welsh village. Through a tapestry of warm tales, Thomas embraces the eccentricities of relatives and townsfolk, and the magic of the holidays. Above all, it’s a word-fest, with Thomas’ lyrical language tripping off lips in a singsong symphony.
Foothill Theatre Company; 7 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday; $6-$23. 401 Broad Street in Nevada City, (530) 265-8587. Through January 1. P.R.
A Christmas Carol The Sacramento Theatre Company’s Carol is a revisit to its traditional musical version. The staging is done through overlapping narration, with the large cast delivering Charles Dickens’ descriptions of Scrooge on his journeys to past, present and future Christmases. The costumes and sets are handsome, and the troupe is enthusiastic and energetic. However, there is a strange lack of emotional resonance in this production. It may be because old Scrooge is played by a relatively young, spry Matt K. Miller. He does an admirable job, but his transformation isn’t a major arc. “Bah humbug!” aside, it’s still nice to see this handsome Carol back on the Sacramento Theatre Company stage.
Sacramento Theatre Company; 12:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 7 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday; $36. 1419 H Street, (916) 443-6722. Through January 2. P.R.
Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol Playwright Tom Mula, who has played Scrooge in hundreds of performances in Chicago, retells the tale from the viewpoint of Jacob Marley. Marley’s ghost reluctantly attempts a mission impossible: reforming his former business partner. Mula combines familiar Dickensian dialogue with his own inventions. Several new scenes are dark verbal glimpses into hell. This is not a show for kids, but there’s a lyrical, impish wit at work here, and it’s quite attractive. Director Stephanie Gularte gets a lot from her cast, including perky Jamie Jones and versatile Lucinda Hitchcock Cone. But it’s Harry Harris who carries the show on his broad shoulders (and malleable voice) as Marley.
Delta King Theatre; 8 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, and 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; $45-$52 for show and meal, or $18-$25 for show only. 1000 Front Street in Old Sacramento, (916) 995-5464. Through December 24. J.H.
Pageant The Studio Theatre pays homage to cheesy, tacky beauty pageants. Watch “giddy girls” compete to be Miss Glamouresse in this over-the-top pageant complete with bathing-suit, evening-gown and talent competitions. The twist is that all the contestants are men portraying women, which makes it fun. The cast embraces the concept with endless enthusiasm and energy. However, the musical never really lives up to its potential, with mild, safe and silly humor.
Studio Theatre; 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday; $16-$21. 1028 R Street, (916) 446-2668. Extended through January 16. P.R.
Stable in the Back What if the commercialism of Christmas started at Christ’s birth, right in the stable? That’s the clever premise of Celebration Arts’ homegrown musical, brought back after its debut last year. It takes the unique perspective of a money-hungry innkeeper who allows the holy family to park in his stable and then tries to cash in on the event. The costumes, sets and songs set the tone for this funkified version of the Christmas story. There’s a lot going on in this production, which becomes over-burdened with subplots, needless narrative asides and a loss of focus. Too much is brought to this buffet, and it needs to be streamlined and simplified.
Celebration Arts Theatre; 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday; $8-$15. No shows December 24-26. 4469 D Street, (916) 455-2787. Through December 31. P.R.
The Vagina Monologues This play with the gutsy title takes a taboo subject matter—a basic body part of every woman—and makes it acceptable to talk about. For this production by SacActors.com, three talented actresses trade off monologues in front of deep-red velvet panels. The performances examine not only the word, but also the body part, and all the shame, power, fear and beauty that vagina owners carry with them. The play is great fodder for after-show conversations.
Geery Theatre; 8 p.m. Friday, 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday; $12.50-$14.50. No shows December 20 through January 6. 2130 L Street, (916) 451-4152. Extended through February 27. P.R.
A Year with Frog and Toad This sparkling little musical—ostensibly for kids, but with broader appeal—features the two actors SN&R recognized in the recent Best of Sacramento issue for “Best theatrical performances by big men.” Rick Kleber and Peter Story strike up quite a buddy relationship while going swimming, baking cookies, raking leaves and sledding. It’s excellent material. The script (based on a well-known children’s book) and Broadway-style score were Tony nominees in 2003. Director Greg Alexander and choreographer Jackie Schultz keep things bright, brisk and bouncy. Look for Jeff Asch as the snail with the mail who “puts the go in escargot.”
Children’s Theatre of California; 7 p.m. Friday, and 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; $15 for children and $20 for adults. 2711 B Street, (916) 443-5300. Through January 9. J.H.